For years, senior living operators could do little more than watch as food service outlets lured away frontline staff. But as it has done elsewhere, COVID-19 is reversing this reality.

As restaurants nationwide suddenly limit or curtail operations, they are being forced to let workers go. Many of the newly unemployed are ideal candidates for positions in eldercare. Not surprisingly, senior living is pouncing on the opportunity. Virtually every operator is in a position to offer steady full-time or part-time shifts, promotions and career paths.

Better still, for facilities with a relationship with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency has announced that it is relaxing licensure requirements for certified nurse assistants as the pandemic continues.

By all indications, the pool of possible senior living applicants is increasing daily. More than 6.5 million workers filed for unemployment in the past two weeks. The number is projected to grow as the pandemic continues. And the timing could hardly be better. Direct care workforce needs for assisted living are projected to grow by more than 1.2 million people by 2028, according to PHI.

So it’s not difficult to see why many former foodservice employees likely will be working for senior living firms in the months to come, experts say.

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